March 30th, 2010
04:56 PM ET
8 years ago

Duncan: Some student athletes 'simply used' by universities

Washington (CNN) - On the same day that President Obama signed legislation revamping the federal student loan system, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told CNN he is concerned about the education of some NCAA athletes.

Related: 'We have to educate our way to a better economy,' says Duncan

"I was lucky enough to have a phenomenal college athletic experience," Duncan says in an interview set to air on John King, USA. "The vast majority of student athletes get that. I worry when athletes are simply used by their universities to produce revenue, to make money for them, nothing to show at the back end. I grew up with a lot of players who had very, very tough lives after the ball started bouncing for them. And that's why I'm going to continue to fight."

Programming note: Watch more of Duncan's interview on John King, USA beginning at 7 p.m. E.T.

Filed under: Arne Duncan • Education • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. gt

    many of these players dont belong in college,,, there great on the field or court ,, but there academics leave them on the bench or cut form the educational side,,,, i hope they have strong backs,,,

    March 30, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Steve

    What a joke. The NCAA already has maximum practice requirements and nearly every major college athletic program (see: Football, Basketball, and Baseball) has strict requirements to attend class to play in games. If the student athletes choose not to apply themselves and earn degrees that is their choice. To imply that universities 'use' student athletes by giving them FREE education is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard.

    Personal responsibility, pass it on. Oh, but don't tell Obama... he might send you to jail.

    March 30, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Bubba

    Athletes: don't let ringers take your tests, or 'friends' slip you test answers. Run your own race, even if you come in an honest last; you know you have to work for the real things.

    March 30, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Army Vet

    I know exactly what you mean Arne. It almost reminds me of the movie Blue Chips.

    March 30, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Rog

    YOU THINK ARNE??????? Wow what was your first clue?

    March 30, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Terry from West Texas

    This is certainly no secret, and Secretary Duncan is just saying what we all know. Universities beat those kids up, especially in football. Most student athletes think they are going to play in the pros, but as Dr. Bill Cosby pointed out, they would have a better chance of becoming a brain surgeon.

    The plain truth is that we love football so much, we really don't care if playing for is is bad for the athletes. Look at all the excitement over college basketball now. A lot of money is made through college athletics. Where there is money to be made, there are men who will try to make it.

    March 30, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. puzzled

    He is so on point. Stay the course because you are telling the truth.

    March 30, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. D.D.

    They are pimped big time. Everyone prospers monetary but them.That is so not right.

    March 30, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Publius13

    Big-time NCAA athletics has little or nothing to do with the legitimate function of a university. The bread and circuses are there because that is what draws alumni $$ to private schools and public tax $$ to public schools.

    March 30, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Joe-Wilmington, DE

    They are just getting this now? These abuses have been going on for decades.

    March 30, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. mireille taar

    I'm glad this is finally being handled. It's about time!

    March 30, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. stop the nonsense

    The "using" is two sided.
    Athletes are treated like gods as young as 10. By 12 they are touted for the pros and between their parents & coaches from that point education often takes a back seat.
    If Colleges put an emphasis on education, and not atletics, if maybe the pro recruiting system did not detroy the education many of these players deperately needed, exploitation might stop.
    Athletes, like other students on scholarships, are given an incredible opportunity. There is a contract that included education. We as fans have forgotten the real reason thses kids are in college. Parents see dollars signs at the prospect of a pro athlete in the family.
    If they have a hard time in school, iti is by choice.
    scholarshi[p is what its about, not athleticism.

    March 30, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Steph

    Keep speaking the truth Secretary Duncan! The graduation rates of some of the top NCAA teams are appalling.

    March 30, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. jojomcgee

    If he is part of the Obama administration he is probably feeding us a line of crap.

    March 30, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Steph

    I heard one of the NCAA coaches defend their horrible graduation rate by saying the education system failed these students long before they came to college. He was basically saying they were so far behind that the college couldn't get them up to their standard...but he never said why they accepted these woefully behind students at the school in the first place.

    Here is the problem. The top sports colleges are all too happy to accept inner city kids who received a horrible elementary and high school education because they are great at a specific sport. The players see this as a way out of the 'hood, take the scholarship (who wouldn't), play and make money for the school. They don't graduate and then have to try to make a living off nothing. They aren't trained to do anything. The school benefits in the end. That IS NOT fair!

    I'm not sure what the government can do about it, but the fact that Secretary Duncan is shining a bright, ugly light on it is a great start.

    My suggestion is to require a specific graduation rate for all colleges who accept federal money. If they want to take these kids who they know won't graduate just to make some money off them, let them find their own funds. We, the American people, shouldn't be spending our tax money on these unethical schools.

    March 30, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. Concerned in Colorado


    College athletics have become a scourge for universities and have brought a lot of false values in their train. Just look at CU Boulder year after year and year. Athletics are glorified while academics are suffering.

    Please dismiss your foolish critics; they are brainwashed and narcotized by their own false values.

    March 30, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Monday

    I glad this is being discussed. NCAA is actually enslaving all the
    student athletes. No one in their right mind will say the students are
    getting education when the over paid coaches want the studens to
    be on the field 18 hours a day. Why are the coaches paid 20 times
    more that other professors? Because it is assumed they make money for the school with athletic program. Same benefit should go

    March 30, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. T'SAH from Virginia

    It's about time!!!

    A lot of YOUNG athletes are drafted 'directly' into the NFL/NBA directly out of high school and if you are paying attention, they are the athletes you hear in the media the most because they are always getting in trouble – they are NOT mature!!

    Go back to when the NFL/NBA could ONLY draft from universities/colleges – and – athletes CANNOT go to the NFL/NBA unless they GRADUATE from college!!! MOST regular jobs are like that and the college graduates usually get MORE pay!!! Same for the athletes – they should EARN their salary AFTER completing college!! Case and POINT!!

    March 30, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. Avi Shlomo

    College sports is another form of Slavery. As a professor, I do not get paid like those coaches nor I could garnish the accomplishment of my graduate students on both ethical and legal grounds. I see coaches getting paid in millions while people who work hard day in and day out and fighting for grants money are not entitled to those kind of outrageous benefits coaches get. I say pay the players. Fair is fair

    March 30, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. BigTen

    As a former Big Ten athlete, I couldn't agree more.

    March 30, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Steph

    I should have added, if the colleges choose to take kids with less than stellar high school educations, they should have to support them and help them get up to par. You can't just use them for their basketball or football skills.

    March 30, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  22. Bobby

    Would this not be the other way around? Aren't many of them using the university system to make future money in the pro's?

    March 30, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  23. Mickey, NY

    Gee...YA THINK???

    March 30, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. GuyInVA

    In the two main revenue producing collegiate sports (football and basketball), a huge number of scholarship players are taking up space that legitimate students could be occupying. I know people will make the argument that "revenue from athletics pays for academic scholarships." Bull. Stop paying these semi-professional athletes, and finally acknowledge that these sports are nothing more than minor league programs for the NFL and the NBA. Stop using the oxymoron terms like "student-athlete" and "athletic scholarship". To liken college athletics to slavery is crazy. Slave couldn't leave when they felt like, and darned sure weren't provided an opportunity for a top notch education.

    Don't cry for these athletes. Tell them to seize their opportunity, and get an education. It's free for a lot of them. Let's face it, as long as "athletic scholarships" exist, no big time donor (like T. Boone Pickens) is going to pay for a luxury skybox so he can watch a legitimate student perform a chemistry experiment.

    March 30, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. Jack

    How can somebody be taken advantage of or considered a slave when they voluntarily accepted the deal? Own up to personal responsibility and personal choice.

    March 30, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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